Episode 1144: The Merry Widow

“It will give me great joy to see you rise from the dead, and walk the night.”

“Believe me, it would make me very happy to kill you,” said Angelique, “but I have decided that you would be more valuable to me alive.”

“Why?” Julia asked.

“For various reasons.”

And yeah, I guess so, because here we are again. That was from July, when the Parallel Angelique imprisoned the actual Julia for a week in a secret basement cell, and now it’s November, and the 1840 Angelique is back at it, but in a deserted lighthouse this time. The spectacle of a power-crazed Angelique tying Julia to a barrel of TNT is so irresistible that they’ve done it twice in four months.

We’re getting close to the end of Dark Shadows, and this story point is the logical conclusion of everything that’s happened since 1967. Strip away all of the details — the families, the time periods, the wannabe it ghouls — and this is the result.

Unable and unwilling to stop himself, Barnabas bites a pretty girl, and then stands around and feels bad about it. Angelique steps in and kills the girl, who turns into a vampire. Then the vampire girl bites Julia at Angelique’s instruction, and now Angelique stands there while Julia slowly succumbs to her wounds, and talks about how happy it makes her.

This is the culmination of all of Barnabas’ bad choices and general ineptitude, and he has no idea what’s going on. He’s just wandering around asking questions, while the women in his life are merrily murdering each other. This is basically the most obvious thing that could ever happen to Barnabas, so it’s good that we’re getting around to it while we’ve still got the time.

“I’m sure you’re not surprised to see me, Julia,” smiles Angelique, as we escape to Witch Mountain once again. Julia is not surprised. Nobody is.

“Where am I?” she moans, weakly.

“You’re in an old lighthouse. I had Roxanne bring you here. She is completely under my control.”

“What are you going to do to me?”

Angelique flashes her crocodile smile. “Why nothing, dear sister in law. I’m simply going to allow nature to take its course… and let you die.”

A lighthouse is a navigational aid, a structure that stands apart and above, so that you can tell where you are in relationship to it. Its purpose is to guide you through dangerous waters, and a hundred episodes away from cancellation is about as dangerous as it gets. Nature is taking its course, all right, and it’s heading straight for the rocks beneath Widow’s Hill.

Now, technically this whole sequence has very little to do with the rest of the 1840 storyline, which is primarily about Gerard, Judah Zachery, Quentin and Daphne. They’re all getting possessed and plotting against themselves and each other, paving the way for the final crisis to come. Meanwhile, the time travellers are off in their own corner, Rosencrantz-style, trying to get to the bottom of things but not making much headway. Pretty much anything could be happening in the main story, in this or any other time period, and Barnabas, Angelique and Julia would still be doing more or less this.

You could say that this is a distraction from the 1840 storyline, but it’s probably more accurate to say that the 1840 storyline is a distraction from this. On any other soap opera, this triangle would be front and center; the magical decapitated warlock head would be a side issue at best.

“Oh, I suppose I could have destroyed you in a more conventional way,” Angelique enthuses, “but that would have given me no joy. It will give me great joy to see you rise from the dead and walk the night.”

And that was true five months ago, too, in another time band. Back then, Parallel Angelique said, “I could resort to black magic to make you suffer even more, but I think I like this way better.” She was talking about slowly starving Julia, rather than letting her bleed out and ruining a perfectly good lighthouse, but it’s the same impulse, a form of competitive cruelty designed for maximum audience appeal.

This is why they had to bust up the continuity, and loop Angelique back into a previous time track. Contempt breeds familiarity, especially on a soap opera, a genre where the characters burn through every possible story point and then keep on going. If you wait long enough, two popular adversaries will inevitably face a common enemy, or get trapped in an avalanche, or go through some experience where they have to put aside their differences and work together.

That’s what happened a year ago, at the end of 1897, when Angelique helped Barnabas and Julia to defeat Count Petofi. A couple months later, during the Leviathan story, she and Julia were borrowing portraits from each other like old friends with new aliases.

But a few months after that, the Parallel Time story needed a villain, so they minted a new version of Angelique who was willing to cast voodoo curses at civilians, and then a few months after that, they roped in this rebooted she-witch, restored to factory settings. If things keep going at the current pace, there’s going to be a new Angelique meeting and disliking Julia up to four times a year. That’s why they’re winding Angelique back to 1692, to give her some more room to run.

“And just think, Julia!” she continues. “In your new existence, you’ll be able to understand all that Barnabas has gone through. You’ll be closer to him than you ever have been before. Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?”

Which is hard to figure. I mean, there was a time when Barnabas did actually want a vampire vixen of his own, as Angelique knows; he had a coffin built for two ready for Josette to join him. Angelique’s issue with Julia is that she’s too close to Barnabas, but this scheme might really bring them closer.

But supervillains tend to act in counter-productive ways, because cruelty is its own reward. Pretty much everything that Angelique has ever done is based on the idea that hurting Barnabas’ friends and family will be an industrial-grade aphrodisiac. It never really made a whole lot of sense in the first place, so don’t expect them to unpack this concept now.

“You shall spend the rest of your life here, which won’t be very long,” Angelique said, and she was right. We’re firmly in twilight territory, where every story point is an echo of something they’ve done before. They’re even repurposing the vampire lady in a white dress, from the Dark Shadows movie. They can’t keep doing this forever, and pretty soon, they won’t have to.

“Your candles will go out soon,” said one of the Angeliques, “and you’ll be left in darkness. You have no food, no water, and no chance for escape. You’re going to rot in this room, Dr. Hoffman!” She didn’t, as it happens, and she won’t this time, but stay tuned. That prophecy is bound to come true, sooner or later.

Tomorrow: The Unearned Curse.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

After Angelique asks Julia, “Isn’t that what you always wanted?” in act 1, someone in the studio coughs. There’s another little coughing fit in act 3, when Gerard interrupts Angelique and Barnabas’ conversation.

Angelique asks Gerard, “I wonder if you would tell me why Daniel was so pleased to see you this morning, when you arrived?” It was nighttime.

Gerard tells Dawson, “I have found ways how to survive, Charles. Perhaps she did too.”

After Amadeus asks where Angelique is with God or with Satan, her first couple words have the reverb they’re using for Amadeus’ lines.

Tomorrow: The Unearned Curse.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

65 thoughts on “Episode 1144: The Merry Widow

  1. I may declare a day of mourning when your wonderfully witty reviews are finally done because – well – DS will be done. Or was done. Or was cancelled. Something like that. At any rate, these are terrific and I look forward to each one.

  2. And the cruel actions, present and past, and future-past, of this super villain are what make her (SPOILER ALERT!) final disposition so implausible and such an affront to the sensibilities of many fans. Never mind Julia and Roxanne. Forget Josette and Naomi. Angelique’s treatment of Sarah Collins, an innocent child, alone, should relegate her to the status of irredeemable. A truly iconic force of evil, a plague to generations, and Barnabas has some kind of seismic soul fart and realizes his true love for her, RUINING EVERYTHING. Both characters, the whole story, everything. Julia should have grabbed his cane and beat him to death with it. Or maybe he just misread the TelePrompTer.

    1. “Seismic soul fart”? I love it, and it does kind of sum up Barnabas’ personality in the series as he goes from one issue to the next. The thing is, of course, the rule is that no one can love Barnabas and not suffer for it. (Not that DS follows their own rules, but hey, it’s just a technicality.)

    2. Absolutely. It is the one thing I found to be unforgivable on DS. I admit I can’t forget Naomi, she was his Mother and Angelique and her curse were directly responsible for her death.

      Plus all I could do was throw up my hands and say ‘You couldn’t have figured this out in 1795 and saved everyone a lot of trouble?” I mean Angelique wasn’t even asking him to marry her, originally, just to keep having their affair. Jeeze, what a jerkwad.

      1. I didn’t mean “forget Josette and Naomi” literally (although Barnabas apparently did). I meant that if the only evil acts Angelique ever perpetrated were those done to his little sister, those alone should quench any torch Barnabas could ever carry for Angelique. Ever. Forever.
        His realization and declaration of love for this lethally evil witch, the bane of his existence, is a heinous crime committed by the writers. I can’t imagine Angelique could even be happy about it, what with being shot and dead again. NOW you love her?

        1. This can also be thought of as an important character development moment for Barnabas, where he learns the virtue of forgiveness. In the end, she as a mortal woman sacrificed herself for the good of Barnabas as well as others; finally she was saving instead of destroying lives, so Barnabas forgave her for the past.

          The writers may as well have done something to attach at least some kind of resolution to the story of Barnabas and Angelique, knowing full well that they had arrived at the end of the Barnabas era of Dark Shadows.

          1. Eh, forgiveness is fine. I could have rolled with forgiveness. “You are my only true love” was way way too far a bridge for me. She murdered or was responsible for the deaths of most of his family. As is noted in this episode, just a few months before the grand declaration, she’s trying to kill Julia and turn her into a vampire, AND killed and turned his “true love of the week, Roxanne” into a vampire for spite. It makes Barnabas look like an idiot ruled by his dick for him to suddenly declare love for Angelique, and mostly because he saw Bramwell the Boring declare his undying love for Catherine in PT.

            They could have salvaged it by having Barnabas tell Julia that he said it to Angelique because he knew she was dying and wanted to give her comfort, but, No, she was his one true love because someone who looked like him was in love with someone who looked like her in a Alternate Universe. It was kind of like falling in love with any woman who had a passing resemblance to Josette, so it does fit his pattern. It’s just so superficial. As an audience member I felt insulted that I was supposed to buy the true love bit.

            Plus, as I said, it was all “you couldn’t have figured this out years ago and saved your entire family a lot of grief?”

            1. But under the vampire curse, Barnabas was even murdering or responsible for the death of members of his own family.

              He was about to strangle Abigail, but she died of a heart attack instead — all because she discovered his coffin and in turn his secret.

              In a subsequent scene in the basement, he was even prepared to kill his own father.

              As well, in 1967 he was making plans to kill his cousin David, a 10-year-old child, again because he was someone who was getting too close to discovering his secret.

              There’s something about the supernatural that warps or even flattens one’s sense of core values.

              Besides, of all the pairings involving Barnabas throughout the run of the show, he and Angelique seem the most naturally fitting — it’s the chemistry. Whenever they’re in a room together sparks are flying, even if it’s the smoldering resentment of estranged and spiteful lovers. Beneath the veil of hatred there exists an unspoken understanding, one that transcends time.

              The pairing I really don’t buy is the post-script offered up by Sam Hall after the series concluded — that Julia should be the love of his life. He and Julia were just friends, whereas he had initially come to know Angelique as a red-blooded young mortal man.

              So, I vote in favor of Barnabas and Angelique. If that’s the way their association must conclude, then that’s fine with me.

              1. I don’t buy the Julia/Barnabas pairing either. Julia deserved better and Barnabas was always going to get all mooney eyed over whatever pretty young thing that crossed his path. Only now the pool of “love of my life” candidates has expanded from Josette lookalikes (pretty young redheads) and Vicki lookalikes (pretty young brunettes) to include Angelique lookalikes (pretty young blonds).

                As you said, the only reason Barnabas tried to kill Abigail and Joshua was because of the Vampire Curse, which was Angelique’s responsibility. Yes, Angelique and Barnabas had chemistry, but that isn’t enough for me to get over all the terrible things she did. Like I said, I could accept a measure of forgiveness because she was dying and had helped him, but “love of my life” is too far. I mean it doesn’t matter because he’s going to find another “love of his life” as soon as some pretty young thing shows up.

                1. Didn’t it seem like Sam Hall took fiendish pleasure in keeping Julia from having Barnabas? Like it was some kind of inside joke betweenSam & Grayson – I’m not gonna let you have your boyfriend!
                  Well, let’s face it, the middle aged, slightly weathered female characters, no matter how fantastically intelligent and witty and loyal they are, rarely get the guy in the end. The “guy” almost invariably ends up with the pretty young girl – no matter how middle aged, tired and worn out HE is. Isn’t that the unwritten law in TV and movie script production?

                  1. It is pretty much the rule in movies and TV, although to be fair, it is/was far less true on soap operas. First soaps were aimed at women, especially back then, so the audience that was being catered to wasn’t the male ideal of getting the pretty young thing. Plus the long form story telling of the genre had couples considered to be One True Loves, being together over years, without recasting many times, so middle aged women could still be involved in love stories, see Joanne (Joanne Gardner Barron Tate Vincente Tourneur) on Search for Tomorrow, who kept getting true loves who then promptly died on her (including Anthony George in a post DS role). May/December couples did happen, but for the most part couples were of similar ages on soaps.

                    Julia being not pretty would have been her biggest drawback to coupledom on a soap of that era, but her age would not necessarily have made her unacceptable as a love interest.

              2. OK, but Barnabas, under a witch’s curse, was a monster who drank human blood to exist, and part of the curse was a magnified instinct for self preservation that overruled his pangs of conscience. I believe he said as much to his father.
                Angelique, believing she was still a “red-blooded young mortal” stuck pins into a doll in order to resume the torture of a child. With what she believed was her dying breath, she uttered an eternal curse on her eternal love.
                Yes, the story deserved a satisfying resolution that rang true to the characters. This just wasn’t it. Epic disappointment.

              3. Yes, Angelique is as damaged as Barnabas. I felt the “twist” is actually pretty consistent with most modern storytelling now — the entire series being about how these two would find their way back to each other.

            2. Barnabas is mostly a hopeless romantic. He’s not directly thinking with his dick. He is is perpetually in love with the idea of being “in love”. He has it all scripted in his head. He knows exactly how he will play his role of the courtly “prince” and he has an equally detailed script that his perfect “princess” will somehow already have memorized before he meets her. He will court her, win her, then carry her over the threshold of the magic Old House where they will live happily ever after, each of them superbly following their respective scripts and never offering each other cause for disappointment.

              In other words, in his next life, Barnabas would be very happy as a six-year-old girl with a massive pile of Disney princess movies and an electronic download of Camelot.

              Of course, at this point in the show, it’s clear that he does sometimes think with his fangs and his initial affair with Angelique is evidence of a more traditional carnal side. However, those two drives don’t seem to be his prime motivation. He wants the princess storyline. Telling a dying Angelique she’s the love of his life engages that princess fantasy perfectly.

              If he had initially just gone along with keeping Angelique as a mistress and experienced a couple years of real-life marriage to Josette … Well, even with the disparate power between men and women / commoners and royals in the 1790’s, I think he might have had the chance to embrace a more healthy and realistic representation of married life and male/female relationships. Or maybe he would have become a complete rat bastard once the inevitable disappointing reality crept in. Still, he had plenty of male role models to help him past the first boulders reality tossed into his married life and I (and probably tens of thousands of women viewers in the 1960’s) would like to think he could grow wiser without losing all the romanticism.

          2. I’d agree that it was a glimmer of emotional maturation.

            All the time jumping aside, Barnabas lives with a linear perception of a life that is two centuries long. Angelique’s perception of her long life may not be so clear during the time period of this episode, but the decades are still piling up for her too. When it is all said and done, they have only each other to share that 1790’s beginning. For Barnabas, in his 1970’s vantage point, no one else currently existent walked that life with him. (Or at least no current person around them fully remembers being incarnate in that place, during that time.)

            Nostalgia has the power to encase the evil and the pain these two inflicted on each other with something more pleasant, a common sharing of “do you remember when” that focuses on the constancy of each other’s shared time frame rather than the constancy of each other’s bad behavior. Eventually, it becomes a comfortable state where each thinks of the other, “Well, for better and for worse, this person is my longtime companion from the days of my foolish youth. How we vexed each other and how we are now still so dearly, consistently, and exactly the same people we always were, only made a little wiser with time. As for the dead and damaged… that is past and behold there is a shiny new “now” right in front of us. Let’s pick it up and play with it!”

            1. Sure.
              “Remember how you tortured my little sister, what’s-her-name? You had us going for days with that one.”
              “Well, I was only trying to get your attention!”
              “Oh, you got it, alright! Especially when you did it again when I found the doll and pins and knew you were the practical joker behind it all!”
              “You shot me!”
              “Yeah, sometimes I do that. God, was Jeremiah’s face red when I shot him! He really gave me the stink eye! Gee, I forget what we were even fighting about.”
              “You should have seen your face when Josette went ass over teakettle into the drink!”

              1. That’s actually a good set of points, and I was going to go on a long rant about the choices we make to keep ourselves victims or the choices we make if we want to move on and be somewhat effective, moral, and sane. Sometimes it just helps to stop dwelling on horrible things, box the feelings, label the box so the truth remains but not the feelings, then NEVER open the box to use it against another person because using it would be going backward. (However, dwelling on past upsets is good soap opera, so of course, that is what Barnabas and Angelique did on screen.)

                That leads to the next thing. If you were living in the DS world and one of the characters messed with your head, killing someone you loved… do you feel differently if you absolutely know your loved one continues after death? Some of the ghosts were just as corporeal as the living. If you know for a fact that the person who died will reincarnate, maybe with the same face, maybe a different one, maybe some of the same memories, maybe not – does that change anything? What if you live for centuries and you see it all again, over and over, meeting the same people and losing them because some form of death takes them all.

                Like Danny does in the blog, I think if I lived in a DS sort of world, I’d also start making jokes about how many Josettes have turned up over the years and keep a running list of the varied and interesting ways some of them exited their reincarnations.

                I can also see a day, where someone yells over at Barnabas, “Enough about Sarah already! That girl has been leaving doors open and locking younger Collins into secret rooms for sixty years. Now, none of the rooms are secret! It’s time that girl reincarnated or at least time she learned a new song. And no, the two weeks of when she spent every night in David’s honeymoon suite being invisible and singing the purple dinosaur I love you song, does not count as learning a new song! Barnabas, you tell your sister if she wants to keep an eye on you and be part of the family, then come back as the next baby Collins or even a hyphenated Stoddard. I’ve enough of her leaving her dag blessed antique toys around. You know how much it costs to get a 250-year-old ball removed from the stomach of howling hellhound? Too much!”

                In other words, death in Collinsport seems to be a non-permanent stage of existence like adolescence. Death grudges between the supernaturals should end when the dearly departed are known to have returned.

  3. Julia has never paid for killing Dave Woodard – also an irredeemable act. Much as I love Julia, I have to admit her being changed into a vampire is fair punishment.

  4. That was always a toughie for me. Barnabas was going to kill Dave, and he cornered Julia, saying that he was going to torture Dave before killing him. Julia feared there was no way to stop him, and by providing the lethal drug to allowed Dave to die painlessly was the only humanitarian thing she could do.

    On the other hand, knowing that Barnabas was going to commit murder, she she should have driven a stake through his heart during the daytime. Or why didn’t Barnabas just bite Dave and keep him under control?

    Questions, questions.

      1. Julia and Angelique ARE fine. It’s just B.C.’s sudden deathbed crush robs Angelique of her status as Queen of Evil. The writers should have taken a hint from the maniacal laugh and music cue accompaniments. All her beautiful wickedness melted by their throwing water on it. And all the tragedy our hero has suffered at her hands? The centuries of mooning and moaning over his forever fiancée? Gone in a Hallmark moment. Cosmic bullshit.

  5. Julia didn’t technically kill Dave, though she was certainly complicit — but she was also trapped in a catch 22. Dave was going to expose her for her experiments. Whether Woodard lives or dies, she faces some degree of personal destruction.

    The idea of a “sympathetic” vampire who also happens to be a murderer is a character theme that only the 1960s could have conceived of — talk about hang-ups.

    As for why Barnabas didn’t keep Dave Woodard under control through vampirism — because it would’ve meant keeping Peter Turgeon the Sturgeon Surgeon on the show.

    1. LOL! Yes, Peter Turgeon was not a good fit for the role. Funny thing: I liked Robert Gerringer’s Dr. Woodard on Dark Shadows but found him most annoying on The Edge of Night.

    2. Dave wasn’t too smart. He taunted Barnabas and Julia before the fateful night of his death. If he’d played it cool he’d probably have come out of the mess alive.

        1. That was the original plan.

          Barnabas was only supposed to be on the show for 13 weeks.

          They were getting cancelled, so this is the note Dan Curtis wanted to go out on.

          Dr. Woodard was supposed to have been the hero — he would stake Barnabas after freeing Maggie.

          But the tidal wave of fan mail those first few weeks decided otherwise.

          1. Since Woodard at that point was the DS equivalent of Van Helsing in Dracula, it certainly would’ve been consistent with the source material to have Woodard stake Barnabas.

            I wonder, though, if Dan Curtis might’ve chosen the more dramatic / romantic option and had Joe Haskell stake Barnabas? Maggie could’ve been rescued by her spurned human suitor.

            Dan Curtis did choose this option in House of Dark Shadows, having Jeff Clark save Maggie from Barnabas at the end of the film.

    3. I always wondered if Julia would have turned on Barnabas if he had killed David. I’m not sure I believe that she would have.

      1. Wasn’t it lucky that David forgot EVERYTHING about Barnabas once he returned from his trip to Boston with Vicki? And once Vicki returned from 1795, David was cool with Barnabas. What coffin in the basement? What ghost named Sarah? Hey Cousin Barnabas, check out my new hunting knife.

        1. Ooh, I’m misremembering this then. I thought Julia finally managed to hypnotize David into forgetting his cousin Barnabas could change into a floppy bat!

          1. She tried to, but when David saw the medallion he was reminded of a dream he’d had a few nights earlier — he’d seen the medallion in the dream being dangled by a woman with no face, and David managed to put the two images together.

            But it’s funny how after Barnabas was cured everyone who’d been under his power or who even feared him like David all managed to suddenly forget.

            The selective amnesia of the writing team may also have played a part.

            1. I remember that Prisoner – David took one look at that medallion and bolted out of the drawing room. The look on Julia’s face was priceless. Still, for some reason I remember her successfully hypnotizing David later. Must be time for me to rewatch the first Barnabas episodes again – I’m slippin’.

            2. Maybe that was supposed to be part of the Dark Shadows vampire mythology, that once Barnabas was cured, David forgot all that had happened previously, plus Carolyn and Vicki eventually forgot that he had bitten them. But then, dear Maggie finally did remember when Willie had her locked up in the secret room of the mausoleum. So there goes that mythology.

              Yep, selective amnesia of the writing team was becoming an epidemic.

              1. Maybe I’m hallucinating but didn’t Nicholas Blair put some kind of whammy on Maggie and Carolyn (and maybe some others) to erase their memories of Barn biting them after the show returned from 1795?

                1. Joanne, he did put a spell on Maggie so that she forgot (apparently for good) about her history with Barnabas. We didn’t actually see it happen, we just saw a scene where Maggie and Joe were planning to leave town (Joe had been bitten and then rejected by vampire Angelique), when there was a knock on the door. Joe opened the door, but we never saw who entered. We were led to believe that it was Nicholas. Maggie forgot everything.

                  Nicholas did put a spell on Carolyn to get her to be the life force in the experiment, and to help him summon the spirit of Danielle Roget. Once that was done he erased her memory of it.

                  1. Memory wiping must be an exacting science, requiring pin point accuracy. Like, you want to wipe out all the bad Barnabas memories but, you don’t want to over do it and land Maggie’s mind back in the 4th grade.
                    They need a blooper reel of Nicholas getting more and more exasperated as he has to wipe, reinstall and rewipe her memories til he gets it right. Life as a warlock isn’t all fun and games, you know.

  6. Re: Barnabas’s loss of every love interest, it’s too bad that Julia couldn’t have channeled Lady Bracknell, who said of the orphaned Ernest, “To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.” Boy, could Grayson Hall have pulled out the stops. It isn’t until the plaintive wails of his very last scenes on the series that Barnabas acknowledges his terrible timing and overall carelessness. It would have been meaningful if he’d done so before that. One hurdle would have been that Frid was in an eternal present. He couldn’t remember/didn’t care about anything that happened to Barnabas over the years. He just semi-learned the lines, semi-read the teleprompter, and told interviewers that Barnabas was relatable because he was “a guy with hang-ups.” Asked about plot points in subsequent years, he couldn’t even remember Quentin’s name. That gave Frid’s Barnabas his sweet, dopey, clueless quality but got in the way of any larger tragic awareness–which would have given Dark Shadows a more meaningful arc.

    Oh, what the hell am I talking about.

    1. I’ve been thinking how unfortunate it is that the people who gave us Dark Shadows were eventually experiencing their work for the show as a terrible employment grind.

      It finally reached a point where all the celebrity (1960’s style) didn’t even begin to compensate for the horrendous toll the 5 days a week production schedule took on this understaffed, under-budgeted, and ultimately creatively-orphaned show.

      I don’t know if any of the people reading this blog have watched Vampire Diaries (Netflix) and The Originals spinoff. I avoided it for years because I took a look at the pretty boys and decided it must all angsty teen drama nonsense.

      I was wrong. They are both pretty good shows. I see many little things that surely must be direct homages to Dark Shadows as well as some storytelling mechanisms that seem inherited from soap operas. (Not to say that I like everything about those shows. The only daytime or primetime soap I’ve ever been able to tolerate is Dark Shadows.)

      My point is that with those two vampire driven shows you have fully engaged producers and lead actors who do not feel embarrassed by the ridiculous nature of the stories. Continuity is taken seriously and they hire staff to keep it aligned. Most of the main actors seem to have actively contributed to the development of their characters. They can also talk about the characters they play somewhat like a fan would talk about character motivation. If it’s “just a job” to the actors, then they see the job as something that continues after the day’s taping has ended.

      Of course, this is how celebrities and fans interact and share the experience of television and cinema now. I think it would have made a difference if the actors in Dark Shadows had experienced their characters and the appreciation of their fans the way actors do now. That’s one of the reasons why, unlike many, I hope for a respectful, modern-day reboot of Dark Shadows. It wouldn’t be the same, but it could still be good.

    2. He just semi-learned the lines, semi-read the teleprompter, and told interviewers that Barnabas was relatable because he was “a guy with hang-ups.” … That gave Frid’s Barnabas his sweet, dopey, clueless quality but got in the way of any larger tragic awareness–which would have given Dark Shadows a more meaningful arc.

      On the other hand, I watched a video yesterday where Florence Henderson said Dean Martin told her the secret to TV is not to rehearse too much. She interpreted it as meaning that too much preparation would make it too stylized, too aloof for people to have in their living rooms.

      Shakespearean-grade Dark Shadows might have been wonderful for some, but probably wouldn’t have been sweet and dopey enough to make it onto bubble gum cards, the cover of teen magazines, and that special place in our hearts we seem to carry it.

  7. This is OT for this episode and I placed it on another DS message board, but…

    Have any of you noticed that after Burke Devlin’s last episode, for the next month or so, there are mainly women on the show? Except for Barnabas of course, and brief appearances of Roger & Joe, and much later Tony Peterson, all the male characters have been written off?

    It’s like they had no idea where to take the storyline and let the show drift. They are lucky the ratings still held off by the start of 1795.

    1. Around the time of Burke Devlin’s last episode, the vampire story has sort of reached its limit. There is nowhere for it to go. The natural thing to do is to conclude the story with the death of Barnabas, but they don’t want to do that. On the other side, every woman on the show at that point aside from Vicki had already been a victim of Barnabas or become a servant of Barnabas. And how long could a Vicki based storyline have gone on.

      Worse yet, removing Burke Devlin removed the male action lead from the show leaving them with a cast that was only suitable for massive romantic triangles around Barnabas. They had also run out of “B” stories.

      The show had written itself into a corner, as was to do several more times in the future, and the eventual solution was the brilliant idea of doing time travel. They also used the time travel to transform Barnabas into a fully sympathic character so that he could become the male action lead.

  8. ratfeather
    June 19, 2018 at 10:28 pm

    I’ve been thinking how unfortunate it is that the people who gave us Dark Shadows were eventually experiencing their work for the show as a terrible employment grind.

    It finally reached a point where all the celebrity (1960’s style) didn’t even begin to compensate for the horrendous toll the 5 days a week production schedule took on this understaffed, under-budgeted, and ultimately creatively-orphaned show.

    …..

    Very well put. We the viewer have a luxury that cast and crew never had. We can watch, study, savor any episode or storyline as much – or as little – as we want. We can take a vacation from the series any time we want. Cast and crew were not only living the live-to-tape grind (given technical/budgetary/scheduling limitations), they were practically living “Dark Shadows”. Weekends and days/weeks off would at least offer something of a temporary respite, but writing, taping, just plain filling five half hours a week, no repeats of earlier episodes allowed (despite a vast reservior to draw upon), this was a project that pretty much followed everyone home every day for five years. Not really easy to leave work at the workplace here.

    Online, there is a Jonathan Frid Interview From November 11 1990 (titled as such). He talks about his reader’s theater and one man shows at the time, something he would wind up involved with for years to come. He mentions that, low key as the shows are, he prefers and enjoys the connection between performer and audience, a human connection, rather than some sort of multimedia presentation (yes, that word was around even then). While clearly grateful and affectionate for the show and character that made him famous, it would also seem apparent that, at this point, he really had no desire to have to go through the television wringer ever again.

    1. There should be a space separating “Ratfeather” ‘s two paragraphs, and “My” two paragraphs, acknowledging “whom” wrote what (quoting the Barnabas use of “whom”). Somehow the space did not go through, leaving the passage looking as from one person. Apologies. (I fixed it – Danny.)

  9. I take Danny’s point that, structurally, the real love triangle of the post-Barnabas Dark Shadows is Julia, Barnabas, and Angelique (what with the unconvincing three-card monte of Josette/Maggie/Kitty, VictoriaX3, and RoxanneRT&PT distracting Barnabas but hardly fooling the rest of us).

    But I have to admit that I always hated seeing Julia dominated by some supernatural force (Tom, Gerard, now Roxanne)–I like my Julia clear-headed and outsmarting everybody else, indomitable. (Same with Elizabeth being bamboozled by the Leviathan cult–nonsense! The Liz Stoddard of my heart could stare down a Lovecraftian monstrosity without blinking–at least until she was supposedly in a coma in a coffin with a bell-rope, then she could surreptitiously blink away, but I digress.) I remember being deeply uncomfortable with Julia’s helplessness here back in the day–although Angelique in fine psychopathic glee was undeniably some compensation.

    But then, Angelique is the only villain who gets to SAY anything or reveal a passing thought in this subsection of the series–Judah Zachary just names his objective and glares, with no fascination to the underwritten character (made entirely of third-person expository dialogue), and we never hear poor idealistic sap Roxanne’s feelings or thoughts in finding herself changed, by her beloved, no less, into a creature of the night–what, Barnabas is the only one who had a second thought about that? A soap i sonly as fascinating as its antagonists . . .

    1. For whatever reasons behind the scenes, they never really fully developed Roxanne as vampire as a character. When they were in the 1970s, the natural thing to do would have been to play her up extensively as a vampire who totally enjoyed being a vampire. The total opposite of the romantic tragic figure of Barnabas.

      I always wonder if they just lost confidence in her acting ability at a certain point and started minimizing her active role in the show. As things went on, they seemed to use her more and more as a plot device rather than a character.

      I always thought there was a fair amount of potential in a kind of chess game conflict playing out between Barnabas, Julia, Shaw and Roxanne in 1970 with the other characters being used by one side or the other. They kind of did it, but I did’t think they did a great job with the story.

      1. James B. wrote:

        “I always thought there was a fair amount of potential in a kind of chess game conflict playing out between Barnabas, Julia, Shaw and Roxanne in 1970 with the other characters being used by one side or the other. They kind of did it, but I did’t think they did a great job with the story.”

        Yes, that was another missed opportunity. Ultimately, Sebastian could have had a complete vision of the destruction of Collinwood, and they could have shown that vision so that viewers got to see how it all happened. But then Sebastian and Roxanne (who I think was turned into a vampire by Judah/Gerard in the original 1840 time line) could have helped Barnabas and Julia destroy Judah for good. Roxanne would have had a stake in this (no pun intended) since she would have had anger for him cursing her. Perhaps in time, Julia could cure Barnabas and Roxanne of their respective vampire curses (as she did for Barnabas in 1897).

        Oh well. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

  10. They had every opportunity to develop 1970 Roxanne into a Barnabas Buddy in Crime With Benefits.

    Power Couple that Julia would be aiming to subvert constantly.

    With backstory to explore, just like 1967-1795.

    Seance included.

    1. The backstory idea is actually really good. If she had completely different unrelated backstory to Barnabas, it allows them to go back in time in totally new ways. They could have also potentially had the “truth” about Roxanne as a person play out with twists and turns for years.

      It would have been way better to have her have an entirely different vampire background story unrelated to the Collins family or Barnabas. But happening in the same area (Collinsport).

    2. That would make an interesting departure. Given that Roxanne has been around and has managed to survive (Barnbas does get caught in 1795, and in 1897 and has to fake his own death – he would have been caught in 1840 if Angelique had not lifted his curse, and in 1967 if Julia did not run interference for him), she could explain certain things to Barnbas as to how not to draw attention to himself and The Westen Rule (From Burn Notice) “I don’t want no homicide detective looking into my business” and the way to avoid it is avoid creating corpses.

      And maybe we could have some interesting character development in Barnabas that way

  11. What’s most distressing about this is that Julia, the trickster, hasn’t got an ace up her sleeve – the way she always seemed to have in the past. Just another victim, washed along in the tide, instead of the smart, inventive turn-on-a-dime survivor. I’m still hoping that she can save herself, rather than being dependent on Barnabas for that, but it seems the writers are going with “imperiled female”.

    Still, nice to see Angelique doing what she does best – good ol’ crazyface gloating… which almost guarantees that her evil plot will be foiled. (She NEVER learned, did she?)

  12. I dunno- I kind of like Barnabas finally declaring his love for Angelique. Yes, it’s a bit out of left field, but it does fit nicely with his never-ending quest for the perfect romantic moment.. And say what you will about Angelique’s murderous transgressions, he was no saint in that department, either. She was afflicted with witchism just as he was with vampirism so to some extent they were not wholly responsible for the heinous acts that stemmed from their um, conditions. Plus, even though she did clearly derive some kind of gleeful sadistic pleasure, Angelique’s evil-doings were largely motivated by her obsessive love for him. And Barnabas was no poster-child for healthy relationships by any measure. So, yeah – for me, it works. Not only do they light up the screen together, but frankly, they deserve each other.

  13. Another thought on the twist of Barnabas in the end declaring Angelique as his true love — do you think this might have been the Dark Shadows way of trolling the audience?

    In a situation of cancellation, there is a history of TV shows resorting to unusual and/or cynical measures as a last-minute sign-off.

    There’s the notorious case of Peyton Place, where day 1 character Dr. Rossi is charged with murder of all things and bound over for trial, and “The End” appears onscreen as he is returned to his cell to think about the rest of his life, leaving the remaining viewers hanging in the process.

    Then there’s the case of prime time comedy Soap. Katherine Helmond signed a five-year contract, only to have her character placed in front of a firing squad in the final episode of season 4 following an abrupt cancellation by the network. Also in that episode, all the other major characters were about to be killed off, with the remaining characters about to become murderers.

    The end of 1840 on Dark Shadows also signals a cancellation — if not of the series, then of the Barnabas era. Always a ratings grabber, the viewer is instead being shown that Angelique will no longer be returning to antagonize Barnabas. The makers of the show know that Jonathan Frid no longer wants to play the role of Barnabas, and they’ve already by this time created a new character for him to play in Bramwell.

    It’s like they’re saying, Forget about the train back to the present day, Dear Viewer, for there is no longer anything there to write about; we are now a vampire soap without a vampire. So we are stranding you here, in a permanent parallel past, for as long as you care to stand it, or until the network puts a game show in this time slot.

    The password is “trolling”.

    1. I think they were trying to bring the Collins story to a happy ending. They redeemed Angelique about as much as possible and gave her a tragic death. The only way to go further would have been to instead kill Julia. But actually having Angelique and Barnabas end the series riding off in the sunset together would have creeped most people out. Angelique also had die because the show had so firmly developed the idea that she would never stand for anyone else being with Barnabas.

      So we got Barnabas definitively cured and hope for Julia with him cured and everything calmed down. Unlike most cancelled shows, the final parallel time thing did allow them to bring the main storyline to total closure.

    2. I think it’s definitely the case. I mean, once they made the decision to do the 1841 PT story, where else were they going to go? I took it as a big FU to the viewer and promptly stopped watching. I enjoyed One Life to Live instead. Once the Dark Shadows cancellation notice came out, I watched the last week of episodes, but I didn’t like it. I hated to see it go, but in the shape it was in, well, it was past time.

      What would have made me happy about the situation, other than the show getting new writers and refining the format away from being a monster show? That on Monday, April 5th, reruns starting with episode 1 would have aired at 4 p.m. on ABC. Still, Password was a good show.

  14. And now, I can admit it, too:

    I liked it. I got butterflies. That’s not easy to do.

    Doesn’t make sense. But how many times have the writers zagged?

    They were the most powerful couple on the show.

    Put them together in any shot.

    I felt like that for Angelique and Laura, too.

    Two beings of great but different power, having each their own advantages.

    Also in the club, Angie and Nicholas.

    Power Couples with powers. I like that.

    Like when superheroes hook up.

  15. Sad news about former Dark Shadows cast member, Denise Nickerson. I’m sharing the following information from Guy Haines with his permission:

    Please keep our dear little “Dark Shadows ” sister, Denise Nickerson, in your thoughts and prayers. She is gravely ill, having had a stroke and needing to be placed on a ventilator. Her son Josh and his wife Jasmine are updating Denise’s Facebook page. Pray for them also as they are exhausted and facing huge medical bills. ❤️

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s